Excerpted from Vegan Bodybuilding & Fitness: The Complete Guide to Building Your Body on a Plant-Based Diet by Robert Cheeke, the world's most recognized vegan bodybuilder: For vegan bodybuilders, the second most popular question after “how do you get your protein?” is “What supplements do you take?”
There were periods of my vegan bodybuilding life when I didn’t use any supplements at all and made incredible gains. But I do use supplements today, and I will share with you my favorite supplements and the most popular bodybuilding supplements for athletes, explaining what their function is and how they can benefit vegan athletes and competitive bodybuilders. The following is a list of common bodybuilding supplements and their functions or roles in contributing to health and athletic success.
Protein supplements are used to enhance muscle repair and growth. Inadequate protein intake causes a negative nitrogen balance, which slows muscle growth and causes fatigue. In an athlete with normal renal function, there are no notable adverse effects to increased protein consumption.
Protein powders come in many plant-based forms including hemp, pea, rice, soy, buckwheat, spirulina and artichoke. Protein powders are a very convenient way to increase your protein intake in an easily digested and assimilated liquid form once added to water or another liquid.
If you fear you have a low protein intake, protein powders are one of the best remedies. They have also been shown to be extremely beneficial for adding muscle when consumed by bodybuilders and other athletes.
My favorite protein powders come from hemp, pea, and rice protein, namely the Vega brand products. I like pure brown rice protein and pure pea protein as well.
Protein bars are conveniently packaged nutrition bars often made of nuts, seeds, fruits, and dates or agave nectar. They usually contain anywhere from 6 to 24 grams of protein per bar and vary in price based on their size, weight, and ingredient profile.
Protein bars provide condensed nutrition and add more total protein and calories to your bodybuilding diet in a pleasant-tasting, easily-consumed, convenient form. They are available at not only nutrition stores and fitness centers but also in convenience stores from gas stations to college campuses all over North America.
I have many favorite bars, but the high protein Clif and Organic Food bars are among my favorites for protein content alone. I also enjoy Vega bars, Lara bars, PROBAR, and a variety of vegan bars that seem to dominate the shelves in health food stores across America.
An antioxidant is any compound which has the capacity to combat oxidative damage in the body induced by free radical damage. Their promotion as substances to fight age-related damage is widespread in the popular and health related media. Although studies support their use in preventing some disease states, a number of large clinical trials cast doubt on the effectiveness of antioxidants, with some suggesting they may even do more harm than good.
With so much conflicting data, the one thing that is generally agreed on is that the lower incidence of disease experienced by people eating a wide range of fruit and vegetables may have more to do with bioflavonoids in the food, rather than the role of one particular antioxidant such as Vitamin C or Vitamin E.
Berries and exotic fruits contain high levels of antioxidants. Some of the most popular and commonly used foods for their antioxidant content are blueberries, acaí berries, pomegranates, acerola cherries, cranberries, apples, and many Amazon fruits and a variety of beans such as kidney beans and black beans.
I personally enjoy antioxidant fruit drinks, and since fruit is my favorite type of food, it is easy and enjoyable for me to consume high antioxidant foods regularly. Sambazon and Bossa Nova are my favorite antioxidant-specific juice companies. I enjoy the quality of their products, their flavors, and the friendly staff members I’ve met representing their brands at various health festivals around the country.
Excerpted from Vegan Bodybuilding & Fitness by Robert Cheeke, ©2010 Book Publishing Company, reprinted by permission.
Learn more from Robert Cheeke at VeganBodyBuilding.com.
- Here are more tips and strategies for the vegan athlete diet.
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